With the league being relatively wide open for the first time in years, the NBA Championship is up for grabs. If you tuned into the latest episode of the NoLimitJumper Podcast, I had a tough time putting teams into playoff contention; considering almost every team has the depth, talent, and chemistry to make a legitimate run at a playoff spot.
Without further a do, here are my top 5 underrated teams in the NBA:
5: The Dallas Mavericks
Needless to say, the Mavs look very scary heading into this season. They added Kristaps Porzingis to play alongside Luka Doncic. For Rick Carlisle, the ability to interchange lineups is at an all time high, as they have an impressive group of role players in Delon Wright, Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Seth Curry. This roster has plenty of young talent, but my only question mark is Justin Jackson.
Jackson played most of his young career with the Kings where he didn’t show much growth. In order for the Mavs to be a legit playoff team, Jackson needs to perform. He is projected to start at the 3, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Hardaway or Smith ended up playing in front of him. He put up 8.2 points per game along with 2.3 rebounds a game. Jackson needs to do more to differentiate himself from the other talent on the roster, or he will soon fall behind in the shadows of his teammates.
Lastly, most underestimate Boban Marajanovic. Boban has proven he is a talented big man as he uses his height to his advantage. If you notice that most guys that are his height have a tendency to be clumsy and off balance when they are on the court. With Boban, he has the balance and patience down low, and being 7’4″ 290 lbs doesn’t hurt either. The only problem is for his first few seasons as he was developing, was that he never saw the floor for more than 15 minutes a game. If Boban gets decent playing time, then we could see a deadly “twin tower” combo with Porzingis.
4: Atlanta Hawks
When you look at a team like Atlanta, you might automatically assume that this is another rebuilding year. I disagree. If you look at the depth of this roster, Lloyd Pierce, and the tandem of Trae Young, and John Collins your eyes start to perk up a bit.
Collins had a 19 ppg and 9 rpg season last year, and if he consistently can average a double-double, that alone will justify the Hawk’s success. An athletic and powerful forward, Collins gives off the vibe of a young Josh Smith with more potential.
As for vets, the squad will look to Vince Carter and Evan Turner to be in everyone’s ear in the locker room, practice, and being vocal on the floor.
It is seamlessly acceptable to consider this squad a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. In the back end of the season the Hawks went a solid .500 after the all star break beating the Jazz, Sixers, and Bucks who are all frequent playoff teams.
Overall, with the right lineup this team can win a decent amount of games this year.
3: Miami Heat
Highlighting this team, it’s very important to note that one player in particular went off on opening night. That player is Justis Winslow who had 27 points,7 rebounds, and 7 rebounds against the Grizzlies. Winslow is one of the most versatile Guard/Forward in the league. With D Wade and Whiteside gone, he really feels the pressure to step up, and last night he did just that.
Obviously we will mention that obvious in Jimmy Butler, as he sat out last night due to personal reasons, but he will have more of an impact than people realize. With Winslow, and Herro there to back up Butler, this team will be a scary team to face.
If anyone knows who Kendrick Nunn please let him know I am now a fan. Love seeing when guys like that ball out; it’s what makes the NBA exciting.
2: Chicago Bulls
Many critics, and fans are overlooking the Bulls. They should pay more attention because this team is on the rise. One big question I have for this team is if Zach LaVine. Can he carry the load on a daily basis because if he, can’t the bulls will fall behind once the season kicks itself into gear.
A good sight to see is rookie Coby White notching 17 points and 7 assists in his debut, followed by Markkanen netting 35 points and 17 rebounds last night in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets. LaVine had 16 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds.
If LaVine can take a step back some nights and be distracted from the focal point of the offense, this team will be really solid. Also, I wanted to note that Coby White played more than Kris Dunn last night, so that should tell you what direction Chicago is heading in.
Lastly, Jim Boylen seems to be running 12 a man rotation, and if he can get consistent production from 1-12 then we have a team to be reckoned with. Needless to say these first few games will be trial and error developing a starting 5.
1: Toronto Raptors
Pascal Siakam proved a lot of people wrong with his performance against the Pelicans two nights ago. He had an amazing night, going for 34 points,18 rebounds, and 5 assists. This is the type of player Siakam is capable of being all season for the Raptors, and if you can get consistency from the rest of the roster they have a legit shot at being right back in the playoff race defending their title.
Fred VanVleet keeps making his case to being one of the best up and coming guards in the league.
An interesting fact to note:
Pascal Siakam (34,18, 5)
Fred Vanvleet (34, 5, 7)
Kyle Lowry (22, 5, 6)
Danny Green (28,7)
Kawhi Leonard (30,6,5)
The 2018,19 Raptors were balling out for the first two days of the regular season. Imagine if they stayed together? They would be one of the most exciting teams to watch.
Overall, Toronto has a lot to prove this season, and it’s one of the biggest reasons why they are underestimated. Losing Kawhi and Green puts a lot of doubt in terms of winning. Hopefully they can keep proving people wrong. Raptors won’t disappoint this season I guarantee it.